Posted on April 12, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Natural climate variability the biggest player, scientists say
Drought conditions persist across the central part of the country.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Last summer’s crippling Great Plains drought can’t definitively be linked with global warming, according to a team of federal scientists from various agencies. In a new report issued this week, the researchers said the drought was probably caused by a confluence of natural climate variations that might only come together in a similar constellation once a century.
Cyclical variations in ocean temperatures — especially the combination of a cooler-than-average Pacific Ocean and a warm phase of the North Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation may have nudged the region toward drought conditions, but those factors tend to be more of a factor in suppressing winter precipitation. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, El Niño, global warming, La Niña, Uncategorized | Tagged: 2012 drought, Dust Bowl, El Nino, global warming, Great Plains, La Niña, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 18, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Spring outlook trends toward warm and dry conditions
The Madden-Julian Oscillation has played a role in Colorado weather this winter.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With neither El Niño or a La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean, long-range weather forecasters have been struggling to develop confidence in their outlook for the coming spring season — a critical time for much of the West in terms of getting some relief from drought conditions.
A wet and cool spring could at least take the edge off the drought in some areas, helping to maintain stream flows and reduce the potential for massive and dangerous wildfires. Conversely, a return to last year’s very dry and warm spring pattern would spell trouble for places like Colorado.
So if the El Niño-La Niña cycle isn’t driving the weather, what is? What we do know is that conditions over the Pacific Ocean are the key to understanding exactly what path storms will take across the western United States, and that conditions in the North Atlantic can also be a factor. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, El Niño, La Niña, Summit County Colorado, Weatherblog | Tagged: Colorado weather, drought, El Nino, ENSO, La Niña, Madden-Julian Oscillation | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Findings could help improve long-range winter forecasts
Shifting cycles of warmer and cooler water in the central Pacific influence weather patterns around the world.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A new study that sorts El Niño events into two categories could help forecasters develop better long-range forecasts to predict how the periodic warming of equatorial East Pacific waters may affect winter weather.
Part of the data for the research came from an array of buoys across the Pacific called the TAO-Triton array. The buoys observes conditions in the upper ocean to forecast El Niño months in advance, and for monitoring it as it grows and decays.
After analyzing all El Niño events since 1979, the NOAA and University of Washington scientists said the El Niños that show a drop in outgoing long-wave radiation from the tops of deep convective clouds are the ones that tend to play havoc with winter weathers. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, El Niño, seasons | Tagged: El Niño-Southern Oscillation, El Nino, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, University of Washington, winter weather ENSO | 5 Comments »
Posted on January 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Ocean-driven warming along western Antarctic Peninsula may be partly driven by natural climate variability
Ice remnants along the shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Temperature oscillations in the tropical Pacific have historically had a significant effect on the climate of the western Antarctic Peninsula, according to scientists who studied a 12,000-year fossil record to measure how much glacial ice melted into the sea during that span.
The research is important because the western Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming regions on the planet, and the fastest warming part of the Southern Hemisphere. The ice sheets of the region may be vulnerable to collapse, and would raise sea level by several meters if the melt.
The study, led by Cardiff University researchers, measured oxygen isotopes in microscopic marine algae fossils to trace glacial ice entering the ocean along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Based on the data, the study concluded that the atmospheric temperatures had a bigger factor than oceanic circulation on warming along the western Antarctic Peninsula than oceanic circulation in the late Holocene (from 3,500-250 years ago). Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctic Peninsula warming, British Geological Survey, Cardiff University, climate change, El Nino, global warming, Jennifer Pike | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 4, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
20th century oscillations show intensification that may be linked with global warming
A NOAA graphic showing early January 2012 ocean surface temperature anomalies.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Atmospheric scientists say they’ve used coral records to trace the history of El Niño cycles going back about 7.000 years, showing that 20th century oscillations are much stronger than those captured in the fossil record.
But the study also showed large natural variations in past ENSO strength, making it difficult to attribute the 20th century intensification of ENSO to rising carbon dioxide levels. Such large natural fluctuations in ENSO activity are also apparent in multi-century climate model simulations, but the 20th century intensification stands out as statistically significant and could be linked with global warming.
The new information will help assess the accuracy of climate model projections for 21st century climate change in the tropical Pacific. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, El Niño, Environment | Tagged: Atmospheric Sciences, climate change, El Niño-Southern Oscillation, El Nino, ENSO, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pacific Ocean, Scripps Institution of Oceanography | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 15, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Archived ocean observations help create new data set for climate models
Atmospheric circulation patterns drive convection in the tropics and can have a far-reaching effect on global climate. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A new set of more complete sea surface temperature data has helped scientists explain a gradual, decades-long slowdown of a key tropical atmospheric circulation, linking it with the steady increase in global temperatures during the past few decades.
“Our experiments show that the main driver of the change in the Walker circulation is the gradual change that has taken place in the surface temperature pattern toward a more El Niño-like state,” said Hiroki Tokinaga, associate researcher at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. “We don’t have enough data yet to say to what degree the slowdown over the last 60 years is due to a rise in man-made greenhouse gases or to natural cycles in the climate,” Tokinaga said.
The Walker circulation determines much of the tropical Indo-Pacific climate and has a global impact as seen in the floods and droughts spawned by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Meteorological observations over the last 60 years show this atmospheric circulation has slowed: the trade winds have weakened and rainfall has shifted eastward toward the central Pacific. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, El Niño, Environment, global warming | Tagged: climate, El Niño-Southern Oscillation, El Nino, global warming, Sea surface temperature, University of Hawaii, Walker Circulation | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 11, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Forecasters call for neutral conditions, but say a La Niña is not out of the question
n El Niño never managed to establish itself in the equatorial Pacific this year.
The three-month precipitation outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With sea surface temps cooling to near average in much of the equatorial Pacific, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has dropped an El Niño watch that’s been in effect for the past several months.
El Niño is part of a cyclical pattern of sea surface temperature variations that affects global weather patterns. The emerging El Niño forecast last spring and summer offered some hope for drought relief in the parched Southwest and the southern tier of states, where warmer than average Pacific Ocean temps can help boost winter and spring precipitation.
During La Niña years, when cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures prevail in the same region, the storm track often shifts northward, driving storms into the Pacific Northwest and then down across the northern Rockies and northwest Colorado. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, El Niño, La Niña, seasons, Snow and weather | Tagged: climate, Colorado snow, Colorado weather, El Niño-Southern Oscillation, El Nino, ENSO, La Niña, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, weather | 3 Comments »
Posted on November 5, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Weather change coming, details uncertain
A Gulf of Alaska low will start to move toward western Colorado later this week.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — All those snow dances and sacrificial bonfires could pay off late this week as the weather pattern across North America looks to flip-flop, with high pressure in the West giving way to a broad Pacific trough that promises to bring widespread precipitation to the region.
But it’s too early to tell exactly where the snow will fall. For now, the forecast models are predicting that a vigorous cold front will cross Colorado Friday night into Saturday, bringing the best chance for snow. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Snow and weather, Summit County snow and weather | Tagged: Breckenridge snow, Colorado, Colorado snow, Colorado weather, El Nino, Gulf of Alaska, Keystone snow, winter storms | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Forecasters not bullish on big winter
drought conditions persisted across most of Colorado during the past three months.
Temps from mid-September to mid-October average 1 to 3 degrees above average in western Colorado and 1 to 3 degrees below average east of the Rockies.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — This winter’s iffy weather pattern doesn’t hold the promise of significant drought relief, according to the National Weather Service’s Boulder office, which released its winter winter weather outlook this week.
There’s a reasonable expectation that the state will see more storms than last winter, but forecasters don’t expect those storms to be as intense or long-‐lasting as those commonly observed during stronger El Niño or La Niña episodes, as the storm track is expected to be inconsistent in what looks to be either a weak El Niño or even neutral Pacific ocean conditions. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Snow and weather, Summit County snow and weather | Tagged: Colorado, El Nino, ENSO, La Niña, weather, winter weather outlook | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 22, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Not much drought relief expected this winter.
NOAA calls for warmer-than-average conditions in the West
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —This year’s wavering El Niño isn’t just vexing Colorado forecasters. Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say that getting a handle on the winter forecast has been tough.
“This is one of the most challenging outlooks we’ve produced in recent years because El Niño decided not to show up as expected,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “In fact, it stalled out last month, leaving neutral conditions in place in the tropical Pacific.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, seasons, Snow and weather, Summit County snow and weather | Tagged: climate, Climate Prediction Center, El Nino, NOAA winter weather outlook, North Atlantic Oscillation, Pacific Ocean | Leave a comment »